Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More on the Myth of a Christian Nation

A great post oddly, from the ERLC; To whom Do You Pledge Your Allegiance?

For conservatives, watching the church-state boundaries means resisting the temptation to perceive Americans as God’s chosen people and America as God’s chosen nation. It means rejecting attempts to analogize God and Israel to God and America. Americans are not God’s chosen people. America is not God’s chosen nation. Although God may have a great deal to do with our history, and although God’s involvement with America may put a special claim on America to stand for truth, righteousness, and liberty in the world, that does not in any way mean that America is somehow a privileged nation with a unique relationship to God. The argument that God has a special role for America to play in the world is a doctrine of obligation, responsibility, sacrifice, and service, not pride, privilege, and arrogance.

“God, guts, ’n’ guns made this country free!” is national pride raised to the point of idolatry. It’s as if I were born on third base and I thought I hit a triple.

[...]

God has had, and does have, something to do with America—and we have to assume that He will in the future because of the vast numbers of people of religious faith in this country. What many liberals are missing is the danger, the wrongness, the central unfairness of attempting to emasculate, eviscerate, censor, or suppress religious expression in the public square, particularly in an overwhelmingly religious country. What many conservatives are missing is that they too often tend to blur and merge the identity of Christianity and God with America—that’s idolatry. Idolatry leads to worship of the state. It leads to suppression of minority viewpoints. Government shouldn’t be discriminating either in favor of or against religion. Instead, government should be accommodating a maximum range of views in the public square.

5 comments:

Geoff Baggett said...

Tony,

You said (rightly), "What many conservatives are missing is that they too often tend to blur and merge the identity of Christianity and God with America—that’s idolatry."

What about merging (placing) the idea of an American democracy upon the very organization of the church? It's what we so often call "traditional Baptist polity." I'm beginning to see some Southern Baptists using this "traditional polity" as one of their benchmarks of what being a "real Baptist" is all about.

Is not the reverse of your statement a possible demonstration of idolatry, as well? Or is that a question for another post? ;)

Tony said...

Geoff,

I have contended before that the imposition of democratic principles upon church government has been harmful, plus, we do not have a clear example of democratic church government in Scripture. It is simply an American (not the denomination) Baptist tradition.

And I think I may have already addressed your concern in reversing that quote here and here and their comment threads.

Streak said...

God has had, and does have, something to do with America—and we have to assume that He will in the future because of the vast numbers of people of religious faith in this country.

So we know that God is involved because we have the numbers to prove it? Those countries that are not as "Christian?" I guess God doesn't care about them.

What many liberals are missing is the danger, the wrongness, the central unfairness of attempting to emasculate, eviscerate, censor, or suppress religious expression in the public square, particularly in an overwhelmingly religious country.

Nice little diatribe. Except I don't know any liberals hwo are trying to "emasculate, eviscerate, censor, or suppress religious expression in the public square."

I agree with much of this, Tony. But some of this convenient liberal bashing and continued faulty theology still bugs me.

Tony said...

Streak,

I did preface that this came from the ERLC.

I know that you don't think so and you think that any "liberal" bias there may be in media is a hoax, but what about Bill Maher? Jon Stewart? Stephen Colbert? I know the right wing has some that are out there, but so does the left.

And I agree with you that assuming God will "continue to have His hand on" America is a stretch and again, patriotic theology. But it is not an unreasonable assumption either. And to extrapolate that because God "has His hand on" America that He does not on others is unreasonable.

I have argued before that I do not think America has any favored status before God, no more than any other country. Moreover, Land said God was "involved with" America, which to me, adds fuel to the fire that the idea of a Christian nation is a myth--disproving his own point. Nations aren't Christian; people are. Would you agree?

Streak said...

Tony, I was well aware of the source. I didn't mean that as a shot at you.

Perhaps I miissread the quote. I didn't read it as suggesting bias but rather animus toward religion. I don't doubt there are liberals on the air and in print who are biased, but equating that with antipathy toward religion is the leap that bothered me the most. You aren't suggesting that because Stephen Colbert is liberal that he is anti-religion, are you? I doubt that is what you meant. In fact, I am sure of it.

To be fair, as I noted in the study on the growing secularism in America, the more I see of Rod Parsley, John Hagee, James Dobson or Pat Robertson, the less likely I am to self-identify as a Christian.

As for the theological questions, I really don't know. I read their justification for that assumption to be because of the large numbers of Christians here, and that was the specious logic and bad theology. I agree with you one hundred percent that nations can't be Christian, and believe whole-heartedly that is a misreading of OT theology.